More Voters Oppose Proposition 54 Than Support It, Field Poll Finds
For the first time since Field Poll began asking likely voters about Proposition 54 in April, more people oppose the measure than support it, the San Francisco Chronicle reports (Rubenstein, San Francisco Chronicle, 10/4). Proposition 54, also known as the Racial Privacy Initiative, would prevent California government agencies and schools from collecting racial and ethnic data but would allow exemptions in instances involving some medical research data, convicted criminals or crime suspects and occasions in which the federal government requires racial data (California Healthline, 10/3). According to a Field Poll telephone survey of 894 likely voters conducted from Sept. 25 to Oct. 1, 49% of respondents opposed the measure, 35% supported it and 16% were undecided (San Francisco Chronicle, 10/4). Although a poll released last week showed that blacks and Hispanics narrowly supported Prop 54, the Field Poll released Saturday found the contrary (Corcoran, San Jose Mercury News, 10/4). Of the respondents, 77% of blacks, 69% of Latinos, 68% of recall opponents, 68% of liberals and 63% of Democrats opposed the ballot measure. Fifty-four percent of Republicans, 51% of conservatives and 47% of recall proponents supported the initiative (San Francisco Chronicle, 10/4). Of non-Hispanic white likely voters, 45% opposed the measure, and 38% supported it; among Asian likely voters, 46% opposed it and 38% approved of Prop 54 (Mendel, San Diego Union-Tribune, 10/4). According to respondents, the most compelling reason to oppose the measure is that the information it would ban is helpful; for proponents of Prop 54, the most compelling reason to support it is that people should not be classified by race or ethnicity, the Chronicle reports (San Francisco Chronicle, 10/4). However, Mark DiCamillo, poll director, said that most voters have "generalistic impressions without naming specific reasons." The poll found that 81% of voters know about the measure (San Jose Mercury News, 10/4). In April, when the measure was supported by 48% of respondents and opposed by 38%, only 25% were aware of its provisions (San Francisco Chronicle, 10/4). Gov. Gray Davis (D) and gubernatorial candidates Arnold Schwarzenegger (R), Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante (D) and Green Party candidate Peter Camejo have expressed their opposition to the measure. Gubernatorial candidate Sen. Tom McClintock (R-Thousand Oaks) supports the initiative (Vega, Santa Rosa Press Democrat, 10/4). The survey is available online. Note: You must have Adobe Acrobat to access the survey.
In related news, 50% of likely voters statewide oppose Prop 54, 31% favor it and 19% are undecided or declined to comment, according to a Contra Costa Times/Knight Ridder/NBC poll of 1,000 voters conducted by Elway/McGuire Research between Wednesday and Saturday, the Contra Costa Times reports. The poll found 61% of nonwhites and Hispanics oppose the measure, and 48% of whites oppose Proposition 54. The survey also found that nearly two times more Democrats oppose the measure than Republicans. Pollsters surveyed an additional 400 Hispanic voters separately and found that 58% opposed the measure (Sturrock, Contra Costa Times, 10/5).
Summaries of other Proposition 54 coverage are provided below.
- Ward Connerly, author of Proposition 54, last week said that contributions to committees working to defeat the measure are a "thinly veiled attempt to influence the gubernatorial recall," the Sacramento Bee reports. Since Sept. 16, the No on 54 campaign has raised nearly $2 million -- much of which has come from groups that have been active in opposing the recall, including the California Teachers Association, American Indian tribes and organized labor. During the same period, Bustamante's anti-Prop 54 campaign has collected nearly $670,000 from labor unions and $250,000 from the CTA (Sanders, Sacramento Bee, 10/4).
- At campuses in the Bay Area, "Prop 54 has put the recall election of Gov. Davis in a shadow," the San Francisco Chronicle reports. At area campuses, "No on 54" stickers, pins, posters and T-shirts "are everywhere, from bathroom stalls to bulletin boards," and messages opposing the measure are written in chalk on sidewalks, the Chronicle reports. At the University of California-Berkeley on Thursday, nearly 24 students wearing lab coats and smocks protested Prop 54's implications for medical research. The Rev. Jesse Jackson on Thursday joined student group leaders at a rally at San Francisco State University to oppose the measure (Vargas, San Francisco Chronicle, 10/4).
- The Christian Science Monitor looks at Prop 54, an initiative that "promises big changes in the way the Golden State looks at race" but which will likely be defeated. However, John Matsusaka, an expert on ballot initiatives and professor of finance at the University of Southern California, said similar race initiatives will likely be proposed in the future, adding, "I expect to see actions like this push the boundary to find out where the boundary is" (Dotinga, Christian Science Monitor, 10/6).
Summaries of opinion pieces and editorials addressing Proposition 54 are provided below.
- While the recall vote "will not matter one iota to anybody outside California, other than for its entertainment value," passage of Proposition 54 could affect Arizonans and residents of other states, "considering the way California likes to spread things," Ernesto Portillo writes in a Contra Costa Times opinion piece. He adds that eliminating an "innocuous but important bit of demographic information will not change people's attitudes toward one another," but it would affect "virtually every person in California" by denying data associated with public health, education and employment (Portillo, Contra Costa Times, 10/5).
- The measure is "blind to a flurry of recent research" showing that "bias still exists, and the effect of race cannot be diminished by denying it exists," a Los Angeles Times editorial states (Los Angeles Times, 10/4).
- Proposition 54 is an "ill-considered" measure that would "hamper efforts ... to treat racial and ethnic disparities in disease," a Los Angeles Times editorial states (Los Angeles Times, 10/5).
- The "vagueness" of the measure's medical research exemption is a "major concern" because racial data has been used for positive purposes," such as tracking disease rates among different races, according to an Oakland Tribune editorial. The initiative is "an ambiguous, poorly-written ballot measure that could end up doing more harm than good," the editorial states (Oakland Tribune, 10/5).
- Proposition 54 is "a simple way to help move this most multi-cultural of states away from government-based bean counting," an Orange County Register editorial states, adding that the medical exception is adequate (Orange County Register, 10/6).
- Proposition 54 would "prohibit the collection of information that is essential to public health," a San Francisco Chronicle editorial states, adding that "[i]gnorance is not bliss" (San Francisco Chronicle, 10/5).
- The collection of racial data "plays a vital role in fighting ... disease," according to a San Jose Mercury News editorial. The medical exception in Proposition 54 is "flimsy and too ambiguous" because "doctors and researchers ... rely heavily on non-medical race-based data -- such as birth and death statistics -- to track health issues," the Mercury News concludes (San Jose Mercury News, 10/5).
Summaries of recent broadcast coverage on Proposition 54 are provided below.
- KQED's "California Report": The segment includes comments from Connerly, Los Angeles County Department of Public Health Director Dr. Jonathan Fielding, former Vice President Al Gore, Rev. Jesse Jackson and gubernatorial candidate Sen. Tom McClintock (R-Thousand Oaks) (Rabe, "California Report," KQED, 10/3). The full segment is available online in RealPlayer.
- NPR's "Tavis Smiley Show": Host Tavis Smiley interviews Jackson about the Racial Privacy Initiative (Smiley, "Tavis Smiley Show," NPR, 10/6). The full segment is available online in RealPlayer.
- NPR's "Tavis Smiley Show": Host Tavis Smiley interviews Connerly about the Racial Privacy Initiative (Smiley, "Tavis Smiley Show," NPR, 10/6). The full segment is available online in RealPlayer.
- NPR's "Tavis Smiley Show": The segment interviews California residents "to found out exactly how much people know" about Proposition 54 (Smiley, "Tavis Smiley Show," NPR, 10/6). The full segment is available online in RealPlayer.
- MPR's "Marketplace Morning Report": The segment includes comments from Pacific Legal Foundation Principal Attorney Sharon Browne, who says she supports Proposition 54 because it would reduce paperwork (Devall, "Marketplace Morning Report," MPR, 10/6). The full segment is available online in RealPlayer.